Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cutch Is Back; Bucs Roll Over Rox 9-4

A little rain in Denver caused tarps-down and chased all the pre-game stuff inside, but the drops were supposed to quit falling by game time and play nice the rest of the night. They did.

The Bucs brought their own sunshine in the first. Jorge De La Rosa was touched up for back-to-back homers on back-to-back pitches by Cutch and David Freese. With two outs and the bases empty, a walk, HBP and Josh's single off the SS's glove made it 3-0. Cutch happened again in the second to make it 4-0. But Colorado chipped back, scoring single runs in the second, fourth and fifth frames on a collection of singles, a homer, walks, a wild pitch and a passed ball to cut the gap to 4-3. It would have been tied had not the combination of Starling's arm and a great snag and swipe by Fran cut down Geraldo Parro at home, a bang-bang play that survived review.

Cutch happens (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Enough, said the Pirates. Gregory doubled, and an out later Jordy walked ahead of Cutch, who lost his third baseball of the night by banging a three run shot off Christian Bergman heat. Starling got into the act, banging another ball yard off Gonzalez Germen, and the nail biter was suddenly 8-3. The Rox, helped by a misthrow, answered with a run of their own.

The Cole Train was done after six, giving up four runs (two earned) on eight hits with two walks, a wild pitch and three whiffs after 103 pitches. Pittsburgh went quietly in the seventh, and Arquimedes Caminero made it a little more interesting than need be, walking the first pair of Rox. The next batter lined out to Cutch, and a timely 6-4-3 kept the Rockies at bay.

The last two innings played out calmly for the Bucs. Neftali Feliz and Rob Scahill each gave up a walk (the Pirates added six more free passes to their league leading number) but no runs, and Gregory singled home a salt-in-the-wound score in the ninth, chasing Fran home to make the final 9-4.

Gregory is hitting .333 (photo Brian Kerbey/Getty Images)

The Cole Train was good enough, reverting to a fastball heavy game plan against Colorado.He said with the lead, he just wanted to stay aggressive, and Clint noted that breaking balls don't spin very well in the thin Denver air. As for Cutch, well, a day off sure did wonders for his stick. He told the press gang afterward that he had "found something" while recently working in the cages; hope he doesn't lose whatever it was he found.

  • Cutch has hit three home runs in a game twice during his career (the other time was in 2009 v the Nats). McCutchen joined Ralph Kiner (four), Willie Stargell (four) and Roberto Clemente (two) as Pirates to have multiple three-homer games. He  also became  the third player to have 10 multi-home run games while spending his entire career with the Pirates. Willie Stargell (36) and Roberto Clemente (13) are the others.
  • Andrew wasn't alone; the Bucs went long five times, and Jordy just missed one, doubled off the newly extended fence in right and becoming the first non-Rockie to lose a homer to the new configuration.
  • Cutch's three hits led the way; Jordy Fran and Gregory added a pair of knocks each as the Bucs totaled 12 hits.
  • The Pirates have hit at least one double in every game this year.
  • In the Central, the Cubs are first with 15 wins, the Bucs second with 12 (3-1/2 games back) and the Cards third with 11 victories (four games off the pace.) The big three...


WilliamJPellas said...

Ya know, I still say the Pirates, top to bottom and in terms of both their major league roster and their entire organization, are the strongest of the "big three" teams in the NL Central. The single biggest difference maker is one guy: Jake Arrieta. For the past year and change, he has been the greatest righthanded starting pitcher in the NL since at least Tom Seaver---and maybe, EVER.

I'm still shaking my head about Arrieta's performance. Over his last 26 starts, he is 20-1 with two no hitters and an ERA under 1.00. And all that from a self-described "fatso" as a teenager, who had a losing record and an ERA near 6.00 when he was with Baltimore. It's not fair, Ron!!!

Anyway, neither the Pirates nor the Cardinals have anyone who can remotely match Arrieta. Not if he's really THIS good, at any rate. I dunno. Maybe he is. A shame, because apart from him, I am 100% convinced that the Pirates would have won the Division last year, and would be well on their way to a second consecutive Division title this year. On the other hand, Arrieta is one man. The rest of the Cubs' pitching staff doesn't scare me at all, and I'll say again that I believe the Pirates have the stronger all around team. I just hope we get a couple of Division titles before the current group's postseason window closes.

Ron Ieraci said...

Ya know, Will, that window thing is interesting. Bell and Hansen are knocking on the door, but there's no place at the table for them now. Taillon and Glasnow are about ready. There are a batch of MLB caliber (maybe not star ability, but major league talent) in the high farm system both by position and pitching. McGuire and Meadows are both already at Altoona, and the IF guys they drafted recently are off to good starts in the lower levels. I think that window is pretty wide open now. It'll be quite the story line over the next handful of seasons to see what they do with the surplus.

WilliamJPellas said...

Two schools of thought there, of course. One: just stash them in the minors and gradually replace your current core, and if they don't start their careers until they're 25 or 26, who cares? Two: use them as trade bait to land a couple of impact veterans to put us over the top and into true World Series contention. All things being equal I would tend to favor holding onto more of them than not, but Nutting and Huntington have said all along that one of the reasons for building a strong farm system was to produce a surplus of young players who could be used to acquire established players who usually won't sign in Pittsburgh as free agents.